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Lecture: Moral Reasoning in a Pluralistic World

Moral reasoning is the process we engage in when we try to figure out what is right or wrong to do and why. Moral reasoning is puzzling. On the one hand, moral disagreement and the diversity of moral thinking suggest to some that moral reasoning is impossible or pointless. On the other hand, almost everyone engages in such reasoning, if only to find fault with those they disagree with. How should we reason morally in a world with varying moral outlooks, diversity of moral views, and substantial moral disagreement? Moral reasoning is often associated with the search for a single overarching value or principle — to be “principled” is to endorse a single value such as overall well-being, or liberty, and to follow a single principle based on it, as in cost-benefit analysis or libertarianism. I argue that this approach is misguided. The proper form of moral reasoning involves finding principled compromises, prioritizing among distinct and conflicting values — such as fairness, honesty, respect for autonomy — and being consistent from one case to another. It follows from this that moral disagreement and diversity do not undermine the possibility of reasoning.

Dr. Patricia Marino is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. She is the current co-President of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love, and a former Humanities Fellow at Stanford University. Her research focuses on topics in ethics, philosophy of sex, and philosophy of economics.

Location: Sidney Smith Hall Room SS 1084, University of Toronto
100 St. George Street
Time: Friday August 9th
Cost: $5
Free for Friends of the Centre
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  • Paul H.

    i am sorry that I had to miss it. Had to get to KW for Bluesfest as Andre Williams was playing at 7:45 pm.

    Will try for next one. I am keen to meet people who are sorting out the answers.

    August 11, 2013

  • Shari V

    I'm glad I went.

    August 10, 2013

  • John S.

    The lecturer generously gave us two hours of her time.She ruined an excellent presentation of arguments by leaving too little time for her conclusion which needed to be amplified to be comprehensible She is obviously a first rate intellect but too pedantic a presenter..I would like to hear her under more relaxed circumstances as she was stressed out. i think it would have gone over better in the form of a seminar presentation

    1 · August 9, 2013

  • John S.

    Who was right Protagoras or Socrates?If there is no right or wrong but only responses to environmental inputs do we have standards by which some responses are better than others?Should we use persuasion to convince others that our responses are better?

    August 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    And therefore, amoral behaviour is somehow an opposite? Of what?

    August 3, 2013

  • Seth

    Goddamn it sucks being an evening worker--this sounds rad.

    August 3, 2013

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